Merchant Navy Officers

Possessing a certificate of Command of the highest level and having sailed at least 72 months in the merchant navy or on government vessels.

Age limit

Candidates for pilot positions must be at least 24 and no more than 35 years of age.

Public competition

A public competition is organized by the local Maritime Affairs Administration, its publication is posted at least two months before the chosen date.

Pilots are recruited from among Merchant Navy officers holding a Command certificate of the highest level and having sailed for at least 72 months in the Merchant Navy or on government vessels, including 48 months in the navigation service and watches over armed vessels in long-distance, coastal, deep-sea or offshore fishing.

Candidates for the position of pilot must be at least 24 years of age and no more than 35 years of age. They must meet the general physical fitness requirements for masters of the merchant navy (decree of 16 April 1986), but also meet the more demanding sensory standards set by the decree of 23 January 2018 on the conditions of physical fitness for the functions of pilot and master pilot.

Each pilotage station organizes, with the authorization of the Maritime Affairs Administration, the termination or recruitment of its pilots. The number of pilots in a station is directly related to the traffic, and therefore to the number of ships piloted in the station.

The geographical areas of competence in which pilots are qualified to pilot and on which candidates are questioned, as well as the licences required and, where appropriate, special navigation conditions are detailed by the prefectoral decree setting the local regulations of the pilot station. Exceptionally, and after the opinion of a local commission, derogations to the age conditions may be granted.

When the need for recruitment arises in a station, an open competition is organised by the local Maritime Affairs Administration, its publication is posted at least two months before the chosen date.

The examination board is chaired by a naval officer and also includes a captain who frequents the pilotage area, a marine inspector and two pilots from the station (general case). The terms and conditions for the organisation and programme of pilotage competitions are set by order of 26 September 1990, amended by order of 23 November 2012 on the organisation and programme of pilotage competitions.

When the new pilot takes up his service, he must complete a practical training of several months by accompanying other pilots on board any type of ship, day and night in his area of competence. This training represents approximately 500 pilotage operations. After this training time, the new pilot gradually begins to pilot larger and larger vessels. It takes about five years to train a pilot capable of piloting all types of ships.

During these five years, training can be enhanced by using ship models at the Port Revel centre, or by using electronic manoeuvring simulators.

Recruitment forecasts